“Right,” I announced on Saturday morning (Saturday afternoon) “Today’s the day you learn to ride your bike without stabilisers.”
I hate to admit it, but teaching a child to ride a bike feels very much like a man’s job (or at least not the kind of thing I’m any good at.) Still; the sun was shining, we had no other plans and it was about time.
We went to see Anna and borrow a spanner (that wasn’t a poem in real life, because her name isn’t actually Anna.)
“Shall I take some toys to play with?” said Tom.
“No way, we’re going to be in and out. We’re whipping off your stabilisers and whizzing straight off to that park.”
“OK, let’s go!”
“Mind the dog poo!” I watched as he sped off along the pavement, “..and make the most of it. This is the last time you will ever ride your bike with your stabilisers on.”
“Cool. I’m ready.”
When we got to Anna’s house, she removed the stabilisers in seconds. Next, we decided to make the seat a bit higher, seeing as how Tom’s got tall all of a sudden. We got into a complicated predicament involving a not brilliant wrench, rusty pliers, bolts, cut fingers and Anna’s living room looking like the floor of Kwik Fit [sic].
“Perhaps we weren’t supposed to do that,” said Anna, “Maybe the seat isn’t even adjustable.”
“Mum! Do NOT say the sh word,” Tom said, just as I was about to say ‘shit’.
“Sh shh.. should we get Andy?”
“I knew I should have brought my toys,” said Tom, lolling on the floor, playing with a pile of screws.
We summonsed Anna’s husband. Using a saw, a can of WD40 and a load of patience, he managed to sort out the seat. He also pointed out that the tyres needed inflating – and that his bike pump wouldn’t fit them. I looked out of the window, saw that darkness had properly fallen and broke the news to Tom.
“I wanted to go to the pa-ark,” he whinged in the beginnings of what would have been a quite justifiable tantrum.
That was when Andy came to the rescue, promising to take Tom to buy a new bicycle pump in the morning, before teaching him to learn to ride without stabilisers.
I woke far too early the next day to the sound of a little boy singing the chorus of Feeling Good by Nina Simone. I came downstairs and he was lying on his front, making a thank you card with a monster on the front for Andy. That was before he had picked him up and taken him to Halfords, bought him a new bicycle pump and a Ben 10 Alien Force cycling kit (with bell), made him a picnic and taken him to the most beautiful tucked-away bit of Manchester countryside we’ve found yet.
Anna and I sat on the picnic rug, watching as he tried, fell, grumbled with frustration, veered off to the left, fell dramatically to the floor and tried and tried again. He managed a couple of metres, so he’s definitely getting there. And I think I might be able to take up the reins from here. I’m not going to try to refit the bloody stabilisers, anyway.